Using Amazon RDS for MySQL, we no longer need to spend time and money tuning IOPS to get strong database performance. By being in the cloud, we don’t need to worry about hardware acquisition costs. Ultimately, we have reduced our costs by 25%.
Sean McCluskey Director of Application Development and Cloud Operations
  • About Intuit Mint

    Intuit Mint is a free personal financial management service used by more than six million consumers in the United States and Canada. The service connects a customer’s financial information—such as bank accounts, credit cards and bills—and presents the information in a single place. Mint automatically updates and categorizes information in real time, so customers can see the status of their finances, track their spending, and keep a close eye on their investments. Mint also provides bill reminders and payment services, so people can not only see their finances, but also take action on them.

  • Services Used

  • Benefits of AWS

    • Scales on demand to support website traffic increase of 200%.
    • Gained elasticity and flexibility compared to internal data center.
    • Reduced operational costs by 25% by not needing to spend time and money tuning IOPS.
    • Completes failover scenarios in one minute instead of 30 minutes.
    • Provides security for 50 TB of financial data.
    • Increased availability for Mint.com.

Mint.com was originally hosted in an internal data center, but the team needed to improve its ability to scale up or down to meet peak traffic demands. “We see a minimum 200 percent increase in website traffic immediately after January 1 each year,” says Sean McCluskey, director of application development and cloud operations for Intuit. “We wanted to be able to scale up for that peak load automatically without spending a lot of time and money acquiring and provisioning new servers every time.”

The Mint team also wanted to put more of its resources into new software development. “Data-center management is not our core business,” McCluskey says. “Our business is helping people improve their financial lives. We wanted to focus more on delivering exceptional financial-management products and less on managing the backend IT environment.”

Moving Mint.com to the cloud would help solve some of these challenges. “It made sense to migrate to the cloud, but we had to make sure we found the right cloud provider,” McCluskey says. “Given that we’re managing financial data, security is of paramount importance. We needed a cloud company that provided strong security capabilities.”

Mint considered hosting its service in an internal private cloud, but instead chose to move Mint.com to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We saw that moving to AWS would give us a more highly available architecture at a better price. In addition, AWS’ security posture gave us a lot of confidence,” McCluskey says.

Mint initially migrated more than 100 MySQL instances to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Approximately one year later, the company shut down the data center it had previously used to host Mint.com and shifted its focus to optimizing its applications on AWS. As part of this optimization effort, the company migrated its MySQL instances from Amazon EC2 to Amazon RDS for MySQL. “Part of the reason for migrating was that we knew we wouldn’t have to tune database IOPS anymore, and we also saw we could reduce some operating costs,” McCluskey says.

Mint also uses AWS CloudFormation templates, which give the company’s administrators a way to provision and manage its AWS resources easily, and employs Amazon CloudFront, a global content-delivery network (CDN) service designed to speed the delivery of websites and other web assets, to deliver its content. 

Mint is part of Intuit’s multi-year journey to move its hosting strategy to the public cloud. Intuit needed a scalable, secure, and reliable service to help the company deliver better products and services to its global customers. AWS allows the company to scale better, while developers have broader access to tools that help them quickly build global-ready, cloud-ready services.

In addition, Mint now has an efficient way to scale its website up or down on demand, depending on user traffic. “We can use AWS to scale Mint.com automatically to support the 200 percent traffic increase we see at the beginning of each year,” says McCluskey. “In addition, when we need to conduct operations on the system’s back end requiring larger amounts of compute, it’s easily accessible in the cloud. By using AWS, we have gained a level of elasticity and flexibility we would not have in an internal data center.”

AWS has also enabled Mint to reduce costs. “Using Amazon RDS for MySQL, we no longer need to spend time and money tuning the server and IOPS to get strong database performance,” says McCluskey. “By being in the cloud, we also don’t need to worry about hardware-acquisition costs. Ultimately, we have reduced our costs by 25 percent.”

Mint also saves time by taking advantage of Amazon RDS for MySQL. “Previously, we had to do manual interventions for failover scenarios, which often took up to 30 minutes to complete,” McCluskey says. “Using Amazon RDS for MySQL, the failover process only takes a minute.” RDS for MySQL also saves time for database administrators (DBAs). “Since we migrated to RDS, our DBAs have freed up at least 15 percent of their time from database-support activities, including server administration, backups/snapshot, and that type of support,” says McCluskey. “This is time we can now use to work with the development teams to build better products.”

The company can effectively provide security for the 50 terabytes of financial data it stores. “When it comes to security, we follow AWS’ rigorous security best practices. We have implemented a sophisticated solution with individually encrypted data shards, and we continually re-key our data,” McCluskey says.

In addition, the company has increased availability for Mint.com. “We use three AWS Availability Zones, which gives us a highly available solution at a lower cost,” says McCluskey. “When site traffic is routed, it bounces across all three zones, so even if one of the zones was down, the other two would scale automatically to support the traffic load without impacting our users.”

With AWS, Mint can give its developers a more streamlined way of building new website features. “We are getting to the point of automating our development processes using AWS services such as AWS CloudFormation, and we are already seeing dramatic improvements in efficiency for our development team,” says McCluskey. “Spinning up a new service in AWS only takes us hours, which is something that would have taken us weeks in our data-center model. Using AWS services allows us to leverage common implementation patterns that build in resiliency, availability, and performance with minimal turn up and support time. We look forward to adding more AWS services, which will help us further optimize our costs and increase operational efficiencies.”

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